Rob Williams

“First and foremost, EMTM gave me a sense of confidence. But it also gave me well-designed spanning courses in intellectual property, R&D, venture capital and entrepreneurship. This knowledge is basically the history of innovation and a critical foundation. You’re not going to get it anywhere else.”


Rob Williams, MS, EMTM’02
Senior Manager, Innovation and Integration Analysis, Modeling, Simulation and Experimentation, Integrated Defense Systems
Boeing
Ridley Park, PA


Rob Williams, MS, EMTM’02

Rob dreamed of working in aerospace since he was a child, so, to a certain extent, getting an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering were natural steps in fulfilling that destiny. While he was working at an early job in the defense industry, however, he discovered a new and complementary interest in analyzing international treaties. From there, Rob returned to grad school in international relations. His technical and policy background led to working in and out of the public sector on issues of arms control, aeronautics and industrial competitiveness for the Reagan administration in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Next he established his global technology perspective while working for Toshiba in Japan in manufacturing R&D.

Rob landed back in the U.S. at Boeing’s Philadelphia area facility where he has enjoyed “five careers” in areas such as R&D, product line management, international sales and business analysis. Overseeing several million dollars in R&D projects at Boeing, Rob felt it was time to shore up his business credentials with an EMTM degree. “I had plenty of prior background in engineering and international relations but I needed more of an understanding of technology management.” The EMTM degree led him to his current position as a senior manager in the company’s integrated defense systems group designing and managing its innovation practices.

Why EMTM?

It was clear to Rob that a traditional MBA wouldn’t suit his needs and he was won over immediately by EMTM’s singular blend of Wharton and Penn Engineering curricula. “EMTM was like a smorgasbord Masters. I liked that you could mix and match your own courses and concentrations.” Rob also liked the program’s flexibility and part-time and full-time options. With the support of his company, he started the program in 1999.

Career Impact

EMTM’s impacts on Rob’s career were almost immediate. “I did exceedingly well with the program under my belt. The things that probably helped me the most were the Leadership and Organizational Behavior & Design courses, as well as the emphasis on leveraging your skills to promote your career.” When he completed his degree, Rob approached a VP about joining a new business unit and became a manager of integration, tying together four different groups. Within two years, a new Advanced Systems organization was formed and Rob became the senior manager for innovation and integration of modeling and simulation where he generates and designs next generation products for the defense group — all told, a jump in three management grades.

“It turns out that I’m really good at spanning capabilities and functions and bringing people together, which is something I learned at EMTM’s organizational behavior class. But I also learned business analysis skills in computational finance and decision models that serve me well on a daily basis.” Microelectronics and Networking electives have turned out to be especially important in his most recent roles, as he is charged with responsibilities for communications and networking units and fluency in these areas is crucial. With nor prior background in these fields, Rob now can work closely with the technical experts.

While at EMTM, Rob also exercised his entrepreneurial muscles by entering the Wharton Business Plan Competition, where he and fellow EMTM students took third prize for a business concept that leveraged a new computing chip device. He has since taken advantage of alumni class offerings, most recently by taking Real Options, a class he lobbied to introduce to the curriculum while he was in the program.

EMTM has helped Rob bring outside knowledge to Boeing, improve its innovation practices and minimize the risks of introducing new technologies. “First and foremost, EMTM gave me a sense of confidence. But it also gave me well-designed spanning courses in intellectual property, R&D, venture capital and entrepreneurship. This knowledge is basically the history of innovation and a critical foundation. You’re not going to get it anywhere else.”